A huge blaze broke out Monday at a steel pipe plant near Tokyo’s Haneda airport, as television images showed plumes of thick black smoke and flames shooting up into the air.

Haneda airport is about 25km (15.5 miles) from central Tokyo. The steel plant is situated in the city of Kawasaki, which is next to the airport.

The vast steel pipe-making facility, which spans 20,800 square meters, operates a pair of manufacturing lines, about one kilometer from the busy international airport.

Aerial television footage showed the blaze stretched across a long, narrow warehouse after it was first reported at 11:36 a.m. (local time)

The Kawasaki city fire department said the blaze at the plant, owned by a unit of giant steelmaker Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, may have been caused by workers who were using gas burners to dismantle the site.

The fire was put out shortly after 1:30 p.m. (local time)

The fire reportedly spread to a nextdoor cosmetics factory owned by Kao Corp, where about 600 employees had been evacuated from the site according to public broadcaster NHK.

The steel pipe plant fire came just hours after a blast ripped through a warehouse at a US military post near Tokyo, sending sparks into the sky and triggering a blaze that burned through the night, although there were no reports of injuries.

The cause of that explosion was being investigated.

Last year, at least 15 people were injured after an explosion at a Nippon Steel plant in central Japan.

It followed a series of accidents at the site, which prompted the mayor of Tokai, a city of about 100,000 people, to formally ask the steelmaker to draw up a plan to deal with any safety problems.


Tags : Agence France-PresseAir NipponBlack smokeHaneda AirportJapanJapan AirlinesKanagawaKawasakiNippon SteelSteel millTokyo

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